VIRTUAL EVENT SERIES
Authors Talk: Kirun Kapur '97 and JinJin Xu '17
Sunday, November 15, 2020
A poetry reading and conversation with Kirun Kapur ‘97, author of Women in the Waiting Room (2020), and JinJin Xu ‘17, author of the chapbook, There is Still Singing in the Afterlife.
Women in the Waiting Room explores the twin forces of silence and speech. It sketches a room full of women—friends and strangers, humans and goddesses—returning from the far edges of experience to find a voice. This fierce, haunting collection asks: in the face of violence or illness, when body and self reach their limit, how can we find a way to speak?
Kirun Kapur currently teaches in the English department at Amherst College. Her latest book was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is now out from Black Lawrence Press (2020). She’s the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize and the Antivenom Poetry Award for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir Press, 2015).
There is Still Singing in the Afterlife is an elegiac illumination of personal and political histories misremembered and censored. It is animated by the intimate language of spirits—living, loved, and gone—singing to us from the hereafter. A poet of deep noticing, Xu interrogates the nature of witness and memory, taking seriously the consequence of confession in a foreign land, in a language not her own.
JinJin Xu is the 2020 winner of the Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Memorial Award. She has received honors from Southern Humanities Review, Tupelo Press, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. Born and raised in Shanghai, she is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, where she received the Lillian Vernon fellowship and teaches hybrid ballet/poetry workshops.
Check out the recording of the event here.
Q&A with Min Jin Lee
Thursday, October 29, 2020
We were thrilled to be joined by Min Jin Lee, Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College, and award winning author of Pachinko and Free Food for Millionaires for a Q&A session moderated by Julia H. Lee '95, Associate Professor and Chair of Asian American Studies at UC Irvine.
Min Jin Lee spoke about her research intensive creative process, her thoughts on the media's representation of Asian people, and her two forthcoming writing projects: American Hagwon, the third diaspora novel of "The Koreans" trilogy, and Name Recognition, a work of non-fiction.
Check out the recording of the event here.
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Campus Connect: Karu Kozuma
Thursday, October 15, 2020
In this virtual event, we were joined by Karu Kozuma, the Chief Student Affairs Officer at the College, who spoke about his experiences in his role at the College and in higher education, and how his Asian American identity impacts his work.
In his role, Karu creates programs and oversees student engagement with various departments, including the Office of Student Affairs, Residential Life, the Counseling Center, the Health Center, Health Education, Student Activities, Accessibility Services, Religious Life, Community Standards, and Case Management. Reporting to the President and serving as a member of her senior staff, Karu draws on his experience in residential life and the broad area of student affairs to ensure student success and well-being while helping develop a stronger sense of community and engagement among students.
Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Mobilizing AAPI Communities for the 2020 Election and Beyond
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Did you know that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. electorate? Or that results in many battleground districts could be shaped by the AAPI community? Or that the AAPI community has one of the most dismal voter turnout rates?
As a result, the AAPI community, for years, has been referred to as the “sleeping political giant.” This virtual panel considered the stakes of the Asian American vote on this past election.
The panel featured the activists and organizers, Darwin Pham, Deputy National Press Secretary and AAPI Media Advisor for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Megan Zapanta, ‘10, the Richmond Organizing Director for the Asian Pacific Environmental (APEN); and Lumi Youm, ‘18, Online Advocacy & Community Coordinator at Environmental Defense Fund.
The panelists discussed how we could mobilize our communities, friends, and family for the 2020 election and beyond.
ASIAN/PACIFIC/AMERICAN STUDIES PAGE
The AAAN is excited to announce the launch of our new Asian/Pacific/American Studies page!
The page features information about current student advocacy for A/P/A Studies, answers frequently asked questions about the discipline, and offers ways to get involved and support the initiative.
Most excitingly, we have also compiled a history of student activism for A/P/A Studies at Amherst. This history is a culmination of months of archival research, oral history interviews, and email exchanges with over 40 alumni and professors. We hope that this page can serve as a resource for both students and alumni who are interested in learning more about A/P/A Studies at Amherst.
We also aim for this page to be a living resource, so be sure to check back for more updates in the future, and let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see added to the page!
Amherst Student, May 11, 1972
AAAN 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW
We had a busy year here at the AAAN and we wanted to share our journey in 2020 with you.
Also, you can check out more videos of our past events on the AAAN Vimeo channel!
AAAN JOB BULLETIN
Come check out our new Job Bulletin! We will update this page regularly with new listings. so please check back.
Additionally, list a position by sending us the job details at email@example.com, or mentor students and young alumni by creating a profile in our alumni directory.
DIVIDED FAMILIES PODCAST
The Divided Families Podcast provides a platform for connecting stories of family separation.
Created and hosted by Eugene Lee '16 + Paul Kyumin Lee, The Divided Families Podcast first began in January 2020 and has covered stories ranging from an interview with Ken Liu, an author the AAAN Book Club had the pleasure of reading earlier this year, to a conversation on transracial adoptees advocating for abolition of the transracial international adoption system. This podcast also interviewed Amherst’s Professor Franklin Odo and JinJin Xu ’17!
The Divided Families Podcast is made up of a small team of very generous people who volunteer their time, and if interested, you can get involved with the podcast by filling out your information here You can also contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Divided Families Podcast's episodes are listed below, and you can listen to the episodes using the icons to the left. Also, if you enjoy the podcast, we encourage you to give the Divided Families Podcast a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts!
Ep. 1 | "The Hidden Girl" and Why Stories Matter with Ken Liu
Ep. 2 | Restoring Family Links at the Red Cross with Mark Owens
Ep. 3 | The Pandemic Diaries with JinJin Xu
Ep. 4 | "Geese Families," Letters, and Magnanimity with E.J. Koh
Ep. 5 | [Unedited] Stories from Topaz Japanese Internment Camp with Mary Murakami
Ep. 6 | From Medical School to the Frontlines of the Pandemic with Dr. Olamide Omidele
Ep. 7 | Webinar with NCNK "70 Years of Separation: U.S.-DPRK Divided Families"
Ep. 8 | "Dream State" and the Hong Kong Protests with Yi-Ling Liu
Ep. 9 | Amplifying the Movement with E.J. Joseph
Ep. 10 | Escaping North Korea and Becoming an Activist with Yeonmi Park
Ep. 11 | Immigration Advocacy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC with Megan Essaheb
Ep. 12 | "Final Boarding Call" and Hong Kong Intersectionality with Stefani Kuo
Ep. 13 | Recap #1: Skeletons, Kaleidoscopes, and the Hyperbolic Time Chamber
Ep. 14 | Human Rights First and the U.S.-Mexico Border with Jenna Gilbert
Ep. 15 | Lessons in American Immigrant Past, Present, and Future with Professor Franklin Odo
Ep. 16 | "Wrong is Wrong" Life at Tule Lake Japanese Internment Camp with Yuka Yasui Fujikura
Ep. 17 | Al Otro Lado and Immigration in Tijuana and the U.S. with Regina Ramirez and Melissa Flores
Ep. 18 | Family Separation in Cuba and Operation Pedro Pan with Professor Carlos Eire
Ep. 19 | Korean Adoptees and the Side by Side Project with Glenn Morey
Ep. 20 | Coming Out of the Fog: Transracial International Adoptees on Abolition
Ep. 21 | Centering Adoptees in National Adoption Month
A huge congratulations to Eugene and his phenomenal success this year—all while completing his first semester of law school this fall!
VERITAS PODCAST EPISODE
Tara Guo '20 hosts the 7th episode of Veritas: Asian Americans and Affirmative Action, a podcast that stemmed from a research colloquium taught by Professor Franklin Odo at Amherst College.
In this special hour-long episode, So You’re Applying to College In A Global Pandemic, Guo discusses current college admissions with a specific focus on the accusations levied by the U.S. Department of Justice against Yale University, accusing the university of discriminating against Asian American and white students in the admissions process.
Seeking to understand how the landscape of college admissions has changed as racial and socioeconomic inequities have heightened, Guo is joined by two guests—Alice Cheng, a master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Olivia Zheng '20, an immigrant rights community advocate at Chinese for Affirmative Action—in a candid conversation on the positionally of Asian Americans in relation to the ongoing movements for racial justice, the implications of conflating Asian American political identity with anti-affirmative action, and the need for inter-ethnic solidarity in support of Black lives.
Previous episodes of Veritas covered topics such as the history of affirmative action, the underlying philosophies behind pro- and anti-Affirmative Action groups' legal arguments, specific stakeholders in the case, the role of ethnic media, and underrepresented Asian American narratives.
Listen to the new episode on Spotify or Soundcloud. For more information, click here.
AAPI STUDIES @ AMHERST: SPRING 2021 COURSES
Robert T. Hayashi, Associate Professor of American Studies; and Wendy H. Bergoffen, Lecturer in American Studies
AMST-225: Mixed-Race America
In 2015 the Pew Research Center identified mixed-race Americans as “the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the US.” Prior to that, revisions to the United States Census in 2000 enabled the checking of multiple identity boxes, increasing the visibility of mixed-race people. Despite this recent recognition, the fact of mixed-race peoples in the Americas is nothing new. Since the Colonial period, laws governing citizenship, marriage and rights prohibited or punished miscegenation; yet, mixed-race people proliferated. Representations of and designations for racial mixing focused on negative conceptions of blood and degeneracy. In more recent decades, mixed-race people have claimed their hybridity, renamed themselves, and even declared their own “Bill of Rights.” Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course will examine mixed-race identity through a range of materials: legal cases, history, ethnography, visual art, literature, and critical theory. The course will also include material on transnational, transracial adoptions, and the mixed-race households they engender.
Franklin Odo, John J. McCloy '16 Visiting Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy
AMST-374 and HIST-374: WWII and Japanese Americans
In the largest incidence of forced removal in American history, the U.S. incarcerated 120,000 people of Japanese descent during WWII, two-thirds of whom were American citizens. Preceded by half a century of organized racism, the attack on Pearl Harbor provided justification for imprisonment of an entire ethnic group solely on the basis of affiliation by “blood.” At the same time, Japanese Americans served in the U.S. military with extraordinary distinction, earning recognition in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe as the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in American military history. Thousands more served in the Military Intelligence Service using their knowledge of the Japanese language as a “secret weapon” against the Japanese Empire. We will examine the historical background leading to these events and Japanese American resistance to official actions including the cases of Yasui, Hirabayashi, Korematsu, and Endo which reached the U.S. Supreme Court. We will also explore the imposition of the draft upon men behind barbed wire and those who became draft resisters. We will also trace the post-war rise of movements to gain redress, successful with President Reagan’s signing of HR 442 in 1988, and the extraordinary rise of memorials and museums commemorating incarceration and memory-making.
Thirii M. Myint, Visiting Writer
ENGL-366: Asian-American Writing Across/Between Genres
In Jenny Boully’s essay, “On the EEO Genre Sheet,” she writes, “I am sometimes called a poet, sometimes an essayist, sometimes a lyric essayist, sometimes a prose poet. My second book was published under the guise of fiction/poetry/essay. I find these categorizations odd: I’ve never felt anything but whole.”
In this course, we will read works by contemporary Asian-American authors that defy and/or exceed genre expectations and examine these texts’ relationship to wholeness and hybridity. How can we read experimental writing as a politically subversive act? How can we read as a politically subversive act? This is not an introductory course on “Asian-American literature,” but a course that will interrogate the term “Asian-American,” both as a marker of identity and of literary genre. Readings may include works by Mary-Kim Arnold, Jenny Boully, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Lily Hoang, Vi Khi Nao, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Ocean Vuong.
This is a discussion-based course that will require your weekly synchronous attendance, as well as asynchronous group and individual work. Also, though this is an online course, I am open to the possibility of creating in-person opportunities for students on campus, especially as the semester progresses.
Kirun Kapur '97 currently teaches in the English department at Amherst College. Her latest book Women in the Waiting Room was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is now out from Black Lawrence Press (2020).
JinJin Xu '17 is currently an MFA candidate at NYU, where she received the Lillian Vernon fellowship and teaches hybrid ballet/poetry workshops. Her debut chapbook There is Still Singing in the Afterlife was selected for the Own Voices Chapbook Prize.
*This interview is excerpted from a conversation between Kirun and JinJin during our Authors Talk event on November 15, 2020. After the event, we asked the authors a few supplementary questions regarding their time at Amherst. Read it here.
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